Unless you travel to Rome; a city of magnificence. I recently spent time there. The pure talent of Renaissance art and sculpture that took years, sometimes hundreds of years to complete, mixed with brilliant ancient Roman architecture that still stands, layered with modern day carefully crafted cuisine and design . . . I was in awe. Each corner I turned had a small tucked away church that within, exploded with fine details.
I happened to grab one of the last days of an incredible exhibit of Azzedine Alaia’s couture gowns in the Borghese Gallery. My eyes didn’t know where to land between the carved talent of Bernini’s sculptures, the layers of gilded art covering every inch of the walls and ceilings, and the surprising creative design of Alaia's gowns in the foreground. One dress even incorporated the hide of an alligator. The stunning gowns acted like the coffee beans you sniff in between sips at wine tastings, when your senses become numb from too much consumption.
It’s hard to come home after a trip like this. My house sure isn't the Sistine Chapel. I can however gaze out of my bedroom window and see a nightly barrage of stunning sunsets that happen this time of year. Nature is a beautiful reminder that there is an innate quality to magnificence. That it may be more accessible than we think. That it comes in all shapes and sizes.
I recently attended a conference on Well-being and Mindfulness at Work. Dr.Jeremy Hunter from the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management spoke about the Japanese culture, having so little, that they developed highly attuned attention to detail and created beauty within their simple lives. Think about the transformation of a piece of paper into origami.
I am starting to realize that magnificence can be small. I don’t need to reserve the word for grandeur, but planting the seeds of magnificence requires my attention and a time commitment that I’m often not willing to give. So, I withhold. I don’t allow myself enough of a horizon for the projects, ideas, or new layers of me that hold the most creative energy.
Magnificence is about creation. Not the mass produced, just-in-time kind of creation of our modern society. Magnificence requires a slower pace: the pace of the artisans who said yes to hand painting detailed frescoes on ceilings. The Maker Movement is re-establishing slow, where tinkering has a formal role and where taking the time to Do It Yourself is valued.
I was listening to the tail end of an NPR interview of a masterful musician (I wish I caught his name). He was asked if he had any advice to share with aspiring musicians. I loved his final words, “Be patient. The world is on God’s time, not yours.”
Magnificence is waiting in the wings. It is waiting for you to attune your focus . . . to rework, to relayer, to come back to the drawing board time and time again. And to know that you are not behind. You are magnificence in the making.